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Emergency measures to support farmers during Covid-19 unveiled

A series of emergency measures to support Welsh farmers during the Covid-19 outbreak, recognising the crucial role they play in feeding the nation, have today [1 April] been announced by Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.

In recognition of the challenges facing the sector as a result of Covid-19 and during what is normally a busy time of year anyway, the Minister has confirmed farmers will have an extra month to submit their Single Application Form (SAF), with the deadline now extended to 15 June.

In response to concerns about Crop Diversification requirements following the recent flooding and the added pressure and uncertainties Covid-19 brings, the Welsh Government has also confirmed it is removing the requirements completely for BPS 2020.

An additional £5.5m has been allocated to the BPS and Glastir 2019 support scheme which will re-open from today to support those farmers who are yet to receive their 2019 BPS and/or Glastir payments.  Farmers will be able to apply for support through the scheme to alleviate potential cash flow problems.

The Minister has today also written to farming unions to thank them and their members for their work ensuring the continuation of the food supply chain.

Earlier this week, a new FarmWell Wales resource was launched with useful information and advice to help keep farm businesses and farmers resilient and plan positively for the future.

The Minister said:  “We are facing a global pandemic the like of which we have not seen in peacetime. This is a worrying time for all families across Wales, especially in our rural and farming communities.

“Our farmers play a crucial role in feeding the nation and even more so during this global pandemic and it is vital they have our support.  That is why I am today announcing a range of measures to support our farmers and help them continue to fulfil this role

“By extending the SAF deadline to 15 June, we are giving farmers the time and space to focus on what’s important now and still have time to claim.  We have also listened to feedback from the farming unions and we are removing Crop Diversification requirements completely for BPS 2020.

“Finally, we have re-opened the BPS and Glastir 2019 support scheme so farmers who are still waiting for 2019 payments will be able to alleviate increasing cash-flow pressures by applying for the support scheme.

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“I would like to sincerely thank farmers and everyone else in the supply chain for the heroic job you are doing ensuring food gets on Welsh plates.  The situation we face is unprecedented but we will do all we can to continue supporting our valued rural communities across Wales.  The measures I have announced today will help our farmers keep doing the great work they do and help the sector during this difficult time.”

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed a range of emergency measures announced by the Welsh Government in relation to the Basic Payment and Glastir Schemes.

In line with the FUW’s calls, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths announced today (April 1) that the deadline by which Single Application Forms must be submitted had been extended by a month, to the 15th of June.

In response to concerns raised about Crop Diversification requirements following the recent flooding and the added pressure and uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic she also confirmed the requirements had been withdrawn completely for the 2020 Basic Payment scheme year.

An additional £5.5m in loan support has also been allocated to support farmers who have yet to receive their 2019 BPS and/or Glastir payments.

Responding to the announcement, and a letter from the Minister thanking the farming unions and their staff and members for their work in ensuring the continuation of the food supply chain, FUW President Glyn Roberts said:

“We have been lobbying for these changes and interventions for some weeks now, so we welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to implement them.

“We are in daily discussions with Welsh Government about other changes that may need to be introduced to ensure our industry and family farms remain viable and can continue to produce food both in the short and long term.”

Mr Roberts said that the union had also recently been in positive discussions with Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, during which a range of concerns were raised.

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